The American Red Cross has a critical need for blood donors of all blood types — especially type O — and platelet donors to help replenish the blood supply after the holidays.

In mid-January, the Red Cross has less than a three-day supply of type O blood. To help tackle the critical need, the Red Cross and NFL are working together to offer one lucky winner a trip to Super Bowl LIV in Miami.

During the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s, about 500 fewer blood drives were hosted by volunteer sponsor groups than required to meet patient needs.

Many groups postpone blood drives during the winter holidays when travel and holiday activities may make it challenging for many donors to give.

“Lifesaving medical treatments and emergencies never take a holiday,” said Paul Sullivan, senior vice president, Red Cross Biomedical Services. “Declines in donations can affect patient care. That’s why the Red Cross is encouraging eligible donors to make an appointment to give now and help those sidelined by illness and trauma.”

Donors are urged to make an appointment to give now using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

As a special thank-you, those who come to give blood through Jan. 19, will be entered for a chance to experience the Super Bowl live. The Red Cross and NFL have teamed up to offer one winner two tickets to Super Bowl LIV, entry to the official NFL Tailgate, tickets to Super Bowl Experience at the Miami Beach Convention Center, round-trip airfare to Miami, three-night hotel accommodations at The Alexander® — All Suite Oceanfront Resort (Jan. 31 to Feb. 3), and a $500 gift card for expenses. Additional details are available at RedCrossBlood.org/SuperBowl.

“The Red Cross appreciates the NFL’s support during this crucial time of year when every donation – and every donor – matters,” said Sullivan. “We hope this may inspire some to make regular blood donation one of their New Year’s resolutions.”

Blood donations help many

This fall, 13-year-old Josh Roy and his family learned the importance of blood donations firsthand. In October, Roy contracted a severe case of influenza B and necrotizing staph pneumonia. He was transported to the hospital, was put on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine that circulates blood through an artificial lung and eventually needed a tracheostomy tube. Roy has received multiple blood transfusions during his treatment.

“You never know when someone you love might end up needing a blood transfusion,” said Jaqueline Bakehorn, Roy’s aunt. “We are so thankful for those who have given blood and would love to see more people donate.”

Roy is still hospitalized but is making slow, gradual progress. He faces a long road to recovery and may need additional blood transfusions along the way.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities

• 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 22, at the Senior Resource Center, 81 Elmwood Way, Waynesville. To schedule an appointment, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767).

• 2 to 7 p.m., Monday, Jan. 27, at High Street Baptist Church, 73 High St., Canton. To schedule an appointment, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767).

• 1 to 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 30, at First United Methodist Church, 566 S. Haywood St., Waynesville. To schedule an appointment, call the church at 828-456-9475.

How to donate blood

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood.

High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive.

To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. Visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or on Twitter at @RedCross.

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